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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Revamp of Liberty Lake Park should preserve natural environment, residents say

UPDATED: Sat., Oct. 21, 2017

Three distinct plans were presented to a group of Liberty Lake residents in September, each with the mission of revamping Liberty Lake Regional Park.

Their respective focuses: ecosystem, family and tourism.

The residents’ consensus? Prioritize the environment.

“Focusing on the ecosystem was the most popular,” said Spokane County Parks Planner Paul Knowles. “But the (proposed master plan) has a mixture of all three goals.”

The burgeoning community hadn’t conducted a comprehensive redevelopment of the popular, 3,500-acre park since 1972, according to Knowles. It’s time to develop a plan to accommodate the town’s growth and the park’s demand, he said.

An anonymous $50,000 donation to Knowles’ department, which helped fund the designing and planning, expedited the process.

After listening to the concerns and preferences of Liberty Lake residents at public meetings, Knowles and his team of developers were able to come up with a tentative master plan proposal, which was presented at an open house Thursday.

Four sizable posters were offered, each conveying the details and aesthetics of the revamped park, which Knowles estimates could take shape in the next five to 10 years.

The proposed upgrades, which won’t be finalized until the end of the year, were vast: environmental learning quarters, expanded campgrounds and RV spots, more parking, trail redesign, multiuse docks, boardwalks, concessions and rental facilities, nature-themed playground, informational kiosks and more.

The upgrades would come in front part of the park, where most of its current camping, hiking and lake activity are housed. A cost estimate won’t be released until the master plan is finalized.

In addition to new features, the master plan will seek to advance the park’s environmental health, preservation of its natural character and protection of its species.

The park boasts diverse natural features, including wetlands, lakeshore and mountain forest. Within those terrains can be found equestrian facilities, an RV park, a campground and miles of backcountry trails, including the popular 8.3-mile Liberty Lake Loop Trail.

But what changes would come first?

“We really have to look at what is popular with the folks who attend the public meetings,” Knowles said. “And what we are confident we can get funded. The beachfront, dock improvement and the campgrounds would be the first focus.”

Parking and protecting the natural environment of the park has been a major point of emphasis among residents, Knowles said, as well as the separation of RV and tent camping.

During Thursday’s open house, residents were able to sound off on the proposed master plan and write down their concerns on a large sheet of paper.

“Prefer minimal development. Like accessibility, improvements proposed, (but) not concessions or rentals,” an unnamed resident wrote. The resident also liked the idea of replacing a road with a trail.

In the proposal, the road that runs in front of the beach would be removed to prevent congestion.

“Love the equestrian access,” one person wrote.

“Leave the wetland alone!” someone else scribbled.

“Please limit development, accessibility improvements are nice, but let’s keep the trail system intact and even expand it,” a third wrote. “No concessions!”

The call for “no concessions” was written by four people. Knowles joked that nobody is interested in putting a fast-food chain in the park, but he proposed rentals for water activities.

Kaylee Goins, a 24-year-old Liberty Lake resident, spends a lot of time on the lakefront.

Goins said the proposed changes are a reflection of the town’s growth.

“I think that the Liberty Lake community is a vibrant and expanding community,” Goins said. “I appreciate forward thinking and planning, and although shifts from familiarity and change can be difficult, I’m confident that those who put time, effort and thought into these changes are only thinking about the longevity of our city.”

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